‘Army should compensate us’

THE father of 13-year-old Tinashe Awali who was recently struck by a stray bullet, which claimed the life of his schoolmate Tawanda Musvipa, during a school assembly in Darwendale wants the Zimbabwe National Army to provide lifelong support for his traumatised child.

By Wongai Zhangazha

Another victim of the recent accidental shooting of two teenagers, Tinashe Awali
Another victim of the recent accidental shooting of two teenagers, Tinashe Awali

Tinashe is recovering at Inkomo Barracks Hospital after being transferred from Parirenyatwa Hospital last Friday. He was accidentally shot on March 23.

Tinashe, a Form One student at Delamore school outside Harare, was shot on the right arm after an accidental discharge of a 12,7mm anti-aircraft firearm by soldiers conducting drills near Inkomo Barracks.

The bullet that hit Tinashe claimed the life of Tawanda, who was a form three student at the same school.

ZNA spokesperson Alphios Makotore said parachute regiment troops were on an exercise at a rifle range when a live bullet from an anti-aircraft gun flew over a catch and trajected for over seven kilometres, towards the school.

The bullet hit the late Tawanda on the right breast before coming out of his back and striking Tinashe.

Tinashe’s father Nickson Awali, a farm labourer, told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that it was by the grace of God that his son survived.

He, however, said the army has an obligation to take care of his son for the rest of his life given that he is likely to be scarred or even paralysed for life.

“I am still not happy. My son is in hospital. I don’t know how it will end even when he heals,” Awali said.

“Will it be an injury that will affect him his whole life since he is right handed and it’s his right hand which was injured? What about the memories of the traumatic experience, will he not be traumatised for the rest of his life?”

“An army officer told me to write my wishes on paper and he said he would forward them to his seniors. I just hope they will be able to take care of my son until he can secure permanent employment when he becomes an adult.”

Awali said his son had been so traumatised by the shooting that he took time to regain composure and narrate what had happened that fateful day.

He said after the shooting, Tinashe was rushed to Inkomo Barracks by the headmaster in the company of some soldiers, but was immediately transferred to Parirenyatwa where he underwent an operation to remove the bullet.

He was discharged on Friday last week and immediately admitted at Inkomo Barracks Hospital where as of Wednesday he was still receiving medical attention.

“It took Tinashe a while to explain the incident. During the first week he could not even talk about what happened. He still appeared frightened and the pain was too much for him. It’s only now that he is able to talk reluctantly about the shooting,” said Awali.

He said Tinashe did not know he had been injured and scurried for cover together with other pupils soon after the shooting.

“He said he just felt a bit numb. He was so confused. He didn’t know what was going on. He actually ran along with other children until his peers alerted him that he had been wounded and there was blood on his clothes. Tinashe says it is then that he stopped and started crying until the headmaster came to his help,” said Awali.

He, however, said he was grateful that Tinashe was well taken care of during his stay in hospital, although his family had challenges in visiting him.

“Tinashe was well looked after at the hospital. The army catered for everything which involved the child. It settled the US$332,32 hospital bill. However, the challenge for me and my wife was on raising enough bus fare to travel to the hospital and buy food while we camped in Harare. The army did not provide for that,” Awali said.

“Parirenyatwa hospital discharged Tinashe and said his wound needs to be dressed every day. So the army offered that since it would be a challenge to us as the nearby clinic did not have enough resources they would take him to their camp until the wound heals.”